London, July 5 : Swiss tennis great Bjorn Borg has changed track again.
Not too many days ago, Borg said that Spaniard Rafael Nadal had all the qualities required to defeat Roger Federer in this year's Wimbledon Championship, and prevent the latter from winning a record sixth consecutive title on the hallowed grass courts.
Now, smiling contentedly and tapping the side of his head, he reflects with wisdom on the five consecutive titles that he won between 1976 and 1980, a record that Federer has equalled and seeks to break this year. There is, however, one championship final that Borg played that needed the soothing balm of time before he could recall it and smile.
The defeat by John McEnroe in the 1981 final effectively ended his dominance over the tennis world. Twenty-seven years on, Borg, sitting in the Wimbledon garden of the IMG house answering questions about tomorrow's final and whether twice runner-up Rafael Nadal is about to deliver a similarly telling blow to the career of five-times winner Roger Federer, says: "It will be a tight game, perhaps over five sets. But Roger is an artist here and this grass is his field."
Earlier he had suggested Federer was third favourite behind Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He has seen enough in the past two weeks to convince him that Federer's imminent demise was perhaps exaggerated.
The Daily Express quoted Borg as saying: "Roger is feeling very confident right now - you can see it from his face and the way he is moving about the court. In my view, he is playing his best tennis. Rafa beat him up in the French Open pretty bad, but that was on clay. To watch Roger on grass is to watch an artist play. He played a bad match in Paris, but this is his home."
"Before the tournament I picked Nadal, just to choose someone else. I thought Nadal had improved his game from last year. He is hitting the ball better, his volley is better and his slice is better. But if Roger plays the way he has been playing up to the semi-final, he will be tough to beat," he added.
"He has 12 Grand Slams now, but if he stays healthy and has that motivation he could win somewhere between 15 and 20. He wants to break every single record he can and wants to be the No1 for many years to come," Borg said.